Professional wrestling and civil rights are not words often paired in one’s mind. That’s one reason why WWE’s On Demand series, WWE Classics, decided to do an episode about how wrestling grappled with race some 50 years ago, when black wrestlers started to become prominent. A fan favorite that consistently is WWE Classics’ top-rated show, the series is known for its candor and ability to uncover stories about how in-ring excitement was created. This episode, celebrating Black History Month, was no exception. The questions about racism that host Jim Ross asked to a panel of black and white former wrestlers and promoters were as direct as a blow to the solar plexus. The result was a frank exchange, augmented by classic clips of black wrestlers like Ernie Ladd, Junkyard Dog, Dwayne The Rock Johnson and Ron Simmons, the first African-American wrestling champ.

Honorable Mentions:

Carolina on Demand, High School Sports, Time Warner Cable: Our judges were particularly impressed with the camera work and clear picture that Time Warner Cable’s free VOD channel, Carolina on Demand, delivers to its 1.1 million subs in the sports-hungry Carolinas. Besides the quality of COD’s picture, the channel’s coverage was extensive, producing 31 N Carolina high school championships in ’08, ranging from cheerleading and wrestling to football and basketball.

NCAA VOD, The Best of March Madness, CBS College Sports: The only On Demand offering featuring NCAA March Madness is CBS College Sports’ The Best of March Madness series. In addition to highlights shows, recaps and game cut-downs from the Sweet 16 (in SD and HD), it allows fans to relive 35 classic moments, including Christian Laettner’s buzzer beater for Duke against Kentucky.


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